Former head of charity for disabled pleads guilty to £250,000 pension scheme fraud

The former head of a charity for the disabled has been warned he faces a substantial prison sentence, after he pleaded guilty to defrauding the pension scheme of the charity he ran of £250,000.

Patrick McLarry, 71, was accused of transferring the funds from the pension scheme of Yateley Industries for the Disabled.

McLarry (pictured), from Bere Alston, Devon, appeared at Salisbury Crown Court, where he entered his guilty plea in the case brought by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

His wife, Sandra McLarry, 59, was charged with four counts of money-laundering, but prosecutor Alex Stein said they would not proceed on these charges and offered no evidence.

A TPR spokesman said that the offences were said to have taken place between April 2011 and September 2013, when McLarry was both the chief executive and chairman of the charity and a director of the corporate trustee of the charity’s pension scheme.

His wife was the secretary of the Hampshire-based charity’s board.

Judge Andrew Barnett adjourned the case for sentencing on December 13 and ordered not guilty verdicts to be entered for Mrs McLarry.

He said: “Mrs McLarry, I have entered not guilty verdicts on all the counts so you are free to go.

“Patrick McLarry, you had the good sense and courage, albeit at a late stage, to plead guilty to this matter.

“It’s a serious matter and really the only outcome is a substantial prison sentence.”

A TPR spokeswoman said that McLarry used the money stolen from the pension fund to pay for a house in France and in Hampshire.

She said: “At the time of committing the fraud, McLarry was both the chief executive and chairman of the charity and a director of VerdePlanet Limited, the corporate trustee of the charity’s pension scheme.

“The TPR investigation revealed that prior to VerdePlanet being appointed as the trustee of the scheme, the corporate trustee took the unusual step of amending the scheme’s definitive deed which meant the scheme was unable to pursue McLarry for the funds which he went on to take.

“Between March 2012 and February 2013 he arranged for £256,127 to be transferred from the charity pension scheme into bank accounts he controlled.

“He used the money to buy a home and a small warehouse in the south of France, a house in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, and repay a debt he owed over the purchase of a pub lease in Portsmouth.

“He tried to cover his tracks by forging documents, lying to TPR investigators about who owned the properties involved and then refusing to hand over vital evidence.

“TPR convicted McLarry for failing to hand over bank statements at trial in April 2017, after which the bank statements were given to TPR. They revealed that he had used scheme funds to purchase his house in France.”

Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said: “McLarry posed as a pillar of the community while he was secretly working to steal for himself the pension savings of dozens of disabled workers.

“He lied repeatedly to try to muddy the waters around him but our investigators cut through his attempts at deception to uncover the truth.

“This prosecution shows that we will do everything in our power to take action against those criminals who raid pension pots for their own gain. We will now work to recover the funds McLarry took.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Ben Mitchell / PA Wire.

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